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House Passes Resolution Urging Congressional Action On Flood Insurance Premiums

The House Monday unanimously passed House Resolution 648 (Millard-R-Columbia) urging Congress to re-examine flood insurance laws.

“Countless residents in Columbia County and many who live in flood plains all across Pennsylvania have been slapped with flood insurance renewal notices that are more than four times what they had paid previously,” said Rep. David Millard, the resolution’s prime sponsor. “This issue can be dealt with solely on the federal level, but I’m urging state legislators to do all that is possible to send a firm and swift message that something has to be done about this for the sake of Pennsylvania homeowners.”

House Resolution 648 specifically calls on Congress to re-examine the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. That federal law required the National Flood Insurance Program to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the program more financially stable and change how Flood Insurance Rate Map updates impact policyholders.

The Biggert-Waters Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2012 to help stabilize the finances of the Federal Emergency Management Act after high-cost flooding disasters such as Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Katrina drained the programs coffers.

“It’s important to note that there are two big problems with the Biggert-Waters Act,” Rep. Millard said. “The first is obviously the steep hike in premium rates. But the second is the profoundly negative effect that the inflated costs can have on the resale value of homes in flood plains. The cost of carrying this insurance will basically make their properties worthless. While I understand the need to ensure FEMA funding, this particular method is having significant unintended consequences.

“In short, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Senate and the president need to take substantive action to fix this problem. And I want to ensure that they hear a clarion call from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to get it done quickly,” Rep. Millard said. “Initial votes have now been taken in the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate, but this resolution will help to remind all that swift, deliberative action is needed.”

The more than 73,000 flood insurance policies in place in Pennsylvania have an insurance value of more than $13.5 billion. Columbia County has a notable concentration of policies.

The resolution was amended in Committee to ask for additional studies on the federal reform; restore previous 2012 premium rates on the flood insurance; and allow a way for property owners to recoup surveying costs if their premiums were raised in error.

A copy of Millard’s resolution will be transmitted to the president, the presiding officers of the U.S. House and Senate, and each member of Congress from Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Senate and House passed legislation March 13 to address the issue.


3/24/2014

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